So last week, we tackled Question #1: What Are You? and Question #2: What Is Your Book? Now we’ll deal with Question #3: Who Is Your Publisher?
So you were so excited to get an offer, you didn’t really pay attention to the type of publisher who made the offer? You’re dreaming about B&N front-of-store displays and the Oprah possibilities. Aside from the first time author (read: lack of brand name) issues inherent in those possibilities, your publisher just might be more concerned with Baker & Taylor and the American Library Association.
What is the publisher’s primary market (or markets)? Do they sell mostly in retail or to schools? Or special markets?
How a publisher will package, sell, and market your book can vary greatly by the answer to these questions. If they sell primarily series nonfiction to the library market, it is unlikely you’ll see your book in a retail store. However, if they sell primarily into the gift market, it probably won’t be in your local library. The largest publishers sell into most markets, but your imprint may only specialize in one or more.
How big is your publisher? How many titles do they publish a year? Where does your book fit into that mix?
A smaller publisher may not have as much power in retail or be able to attend as many trade shows, produce as many ads, etc. as the bigger publishers. On the other hand, your book may be lower on the priority list at a larger house. It’s very possible you could get more attention from the smaller house. On the other hand, less attention at a larger house could still mean bigger sales.
Just remember, no publisher makes an offer on a book they don’t think they can sell.
What I’ve really been saying over the last few posts: you need to manage your expectations, while at the same time concentrating your PR efforts in an effective manner. Pushing for your book as the next Oprah Book Club Selection may (or may not) be a good use of your time. On the other hand, sitting at home and just hoping good things happen is unlikely to get you anywhere either. By analyzing your skills, your book’s possibilities, and your publisher’s focus, you’ll be better prepared for that next PR opportunity and your next conversation with your publicist. I’ll talk about those publicist/author conversations in an upcoming post.